Mailbox Monday #11

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I’ll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I am looking for a good black ink that dries fast, but has somewhat bulletproof qualities. If not, at least waterproofy. I plan to use Rhodias, Clairefontaines, and some good 28 lbs HP paper as well as the Staples eco-friendly pads. There are forums on the web, but sometimes it does give conflicting info.

    What you’re experiencing is a classic case of wanting it all 🙂 Noodler’s inks achieve their permanence by cellulose reaction, which means the dyes in the ink actually need to bond to the fibers of the paper. However, finer papers like Rhodia, CF, HP 28, are all coated to repel the ink (to avoid issues with feathering/bleedthrough/etc). So you see, there is a conflict here, the ink needs to soak into the paper, but the paper wants to repel the ink. What that means is that it’s going to take a while to dry (because of the coating on the paper) and will take a little while to become permanent as well.

    The Noodler’s bulletproof ink that dries the fastest is Heart of Darkness. It’s similar to Black, but might work a little better for you. I’d try a sample of that. Another alternative if quick drying is key, is either the Platinum Carbon Black or Sailor Kiwa-Guro (Nano) Black. These inks are pigmented, which are made to dry on top of the paper instead of soak into it like the Noodler’s inks. The tradeoff of these inks though (aside from their higher price) is that the pigments in the ink can create more of a clogging hazard in your pen, so you must be fairly diligent about your pen maintenance.
    Another ink you may want to look into is J. Herbin Perle Noire…..still a nice black with some good water resistance, but no crazy ink properties to have to worry about, it’s just a conventional ink that’s more water resistant than most.

Brian, on the packing slip I received with my Lamy broad nib, someone had written a thank you note using DA’s Kiwi. I LOVE the color…but when I searched all of DA’s ink, I could not find Kiwi but found Kiwi Fruit in the scented inks section. I am not a fan of scented ink. Do you know if DA offers a regular, non-smelling ink in Kiwi?

    De Atramentis Kiwi Fruit is the ink that was used, and it is scented. They don’t have a non-scented version of the same color. However, the scent on that particular ink is very subtle.

Why do all these pens look like demonstrator’s? I’d prefer to buy the pen once they’ve decided to go into production and not trial products.

    They’re called demonstrator pens, but it’s not by any means a ‘trial’ product, it’s designed like that on purpose. Demonstrator pens have been incredibly popular as regularly offered fountain pens lately, it’s not like it was years ago when the only ones who had demonstrator pens were retailers trying to show how a pen worked, many pen companies make clear or translucent pens now and call them demonstrators.

    I have it as a definition in the Glossary of Terms under our Fountain of Knowledge:

    “Demonstrator – Transparent pens, originally developed for salesmen to show to distributors and retailers to display the inner workings of the pens’ parts. Now, it is a common aesthetic design adopted across many brands. The appeal is that you can see the ink level clearly in your pen without having to take it apart.”

    I have a lot of definitions there, hopefully there are others you can find useful as well.

Can you recommend a large, hefty fountain pen, under $50, that’s good for eyedropper conversion?

Are Noodlers your only American made pens?

    We also have Edison, which are made by Brian Gray in Milan, Oh. Those are all the US-made pens we carry though, the only other American pens (that I know) are Bexley and Franklin Christoph. Just not a lot of fountain pen companies in the US these days!

I was wondering if the sale price on the Rhodia No. 19 Notepad – 8.25 x 12.5, Dot Pad – Black means that you’ll be phasing them out in favor of the No. 18?

    Yeah, we’re anticipating the demand for No. 19’s will all but vanish now that No. 18’s are out, that’s pretty much how it works with all the other Rhodias where both 18’s and 19’s are available. If we have enough people asking for No.19’s we might keep them, but I doubt we will.

Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. I’ll be compiling this coming week’s emails into next week’s Mailbox Monday post!

2017-10-11T14:02:51+00:00 May 14th, 2012|Mailbox Monday, Uncategorized|13 Comments
  • Freddy

    Brian, your Monday Mailbox keeps getting better and better.  It's almost like having a fountain pen encyclopedia on my computer.  Thank you. 

  • I'm glad you like it! I still need to figure out a good way to archive them, once I work that out it'll be a really good reference. 

  • anaximander

    Nice post! I liked your answer about the bulletproof ink vs. slick paper. I'd never thought about the problem that way. Personally, I use J Herbin Pearle Noir on Rhodia constantly and have had no problems. But so far none of my writings have suffered worse than a coffee spill.

  • I don't think Perle Noire works the same way as the Noodler's inks do, so that ink might be a good alternative if there's any drying problems on a particular paper. Perle Noire is pretty water resistant, definitely not as 'bulletproof' and fraud-resistant as the Noodler's inks, but if all you're looking for is a little protection against the occasional droplet of water/coffee, then Perle Noire is probably a great way to go. 

  • +1 for Heart of Darkness. It's a very smooth and silky ink and dries fairly quickly but that depends, of course, on the type of paper.

  • Paper's always a huge factor, but I think Heart of Darkness is one of the best performing permanent inks available today, especially on cheaper papers. 

  • Yeah definitely. I was talking about the drying speed but HoD is smooth on all the papers I've tried, especially copy paper.

  • Anonymous

    Re: the Ahab flex nib, remember that Nathan has designed all of his pens as "tinkerer's pens" — If flex isn't your thing but you like the Ahab's feel you can always swap out the nib — I believe they're #6 nibs, but Brian probably knows for sure…

  • I looked, but didn't fin an email address to write to, so.. I'm just writing here :'D

    I've been trying to address my envelopes in a more fancy way, but I find that my current supply of envelopes turns any ink into a feathering-tastic mess. Are there any envelopes out there than can stand a lot of ink, like from a flex pen?

  • There are…I only know the ones I carry (I'm sure others can recommend other brands as well) such as G. Lalo Vergé de France, Clairefontaine Triomphe, and Original Crown Mill Classic Laid:

  • I got a journal as a gift that has cloth-like qualities. It's really thick. I tried writing on it with my Pilot Prera F-nib and the ink didn't seem to take. So then I tried my Pilot 78 b-nib thinking it might take better but just the same. Do I need a pen with a good flow for it to write well on that type of paper?

  • thank you, I'll check those out 😀

  • When you say it 'didn't take', what do you mean exactly? If the ink is sitting on the page and not drying, that's one issue, versus the ink soaking in and spreading/feathering. The type of pen will make a little difference (the nib size, mostly), but the type of ink will likely be a bigger factor.